Wednesday, July 2, 2014

One Day After Hobby Lobby, Faith Leaders Send Letter Asking for Religious Exemptions from Executive Order Barring Anti-Gay Discrimination

Breaking news from Michelle Boorstein of Washington Post — one day after the Hobby Lobby decision, this happens:

Fourteen prominent faith leaders — including some of President Obama’s closest advisers — want the White House to create a religious exemption from his planned executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against gays and lesbians in hiring. 
A letter to the White House, sent Tuesday and made public Wednesday, includes the signatures of Michael Wear, faith director for Obama’s 2012 campaign; Stephen Schneck, a leader of Catholic outreach in 2012; and Florida megapastor Joel Hunter, whom Obama has described as a close spiritual counselor.

As Sarah Posner notes at Religion Dispatches, 

A June 2014 letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, signed by over 90 religious, civil rights, women’s, and LGBT rights groups maintained, "RFRA [i.e., the Religious Freedom Restoration Act]  should not be interpreted or employed as a tool for broadly overriding statutory protections against religious discrimination or to create a broad free exercise right to receive government grants without complying with applicable regulations that protect taxpayers." (emphasis mine). 
Legally speaking, it is not clear that Monday’s decision in Hobby Lobby requires such a provision. On my bloggingheads show, University of Miami Law School First Amendment expert Carolina Mala Corbin discussed the impact of Monday’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case on LGBT rights. "Assuming the federal government passes laws that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation," she said, "you could very much expect to have corporations to object to these laws based on their religious beliefs." 
The question, Corbin added, is “whether the outcome would be the same…given that Justice Kennedy seems much more sympathetic to sexual orientation discrimination than he does toward sex discrimination.” Meaning, that is, that Justice Kennedy, the crucial swing vote, rejected religiously-based discrimination based on sexual orientation in United States v. Windsor,  in striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, but sided with the majority in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, finding that the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage requirement violates a corporation’s religious rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

As Joshua McElwee notes at National Catholic Reporter, from the moment the Obama administration announced it was preparing an executive order to protect workers in programs sponsored by federal contractors from discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, "A number of U.S. archbishops have preemptively cited 'great concern' with the expected executive order."

Anybody surprised by this development? It's exactly what the five Catholic Supreme men who handed down the Hobby Lobby ruling clearly wanted, when they opened the floodgates.

Since the Catholic bishops to whom they answer clearly want this development . . . . So much for their pretense to deplore discrimination against people whom God happens to have made gay.

No comments: